Major League Soccer announced a revised training protocol on Friday that will allow players to resume individual workouts on outdoor practice fields at team facilities.
The change will go into effect on May 6, and was made in consultation with medical and infectious disease experts. The workouts are voluntary and can not conflict with local public health or government policies.
MLS began postponing games on March 12, with the current moratorium set to last through at least June 8. The league had also put in place a training moratorium at team facilities, with the current ban set to last through May 15. That ban remains in place for small group and full team training at team facilities.
The change in protocol stems from the fact that some players were having to find alternative means in order to get their workouts in, including utilizing public parks. That led the league to conclude that it was safer for the players to work out in a controlled environment at team sites.
The current protocol contains some considerable restrictions. Only payers receiving post-operative and rehabilitation treatment will be allowed inside the buildings at a team's training site as directed by the team's Chief Medical Officer. The rest will be prohibited from entering team buildings, including locker rooms, team gyms and team training rooms.
Players won't have access to restrooms at the training site.
ESPN viewed a video produced by one MLS club that will be shown to players, which revealed the extent to which teams are taking player health and safety seriously. Players will fill out a questionnaire every morning to check for symptoms. If they are symptomatic, an appointment will be made with team medical staff.
Players' training gear will be shipped to them prior to the start of the session and players must put on the gear, mask and gloves before leaving their residence. Upon arrival at the facility, players will park in designated spots with sufficient distance between cars, and proceed to a field entrance where their temperature will be checked, gloves disposed of, and hands sanitized.
Training times will be staggered and players will conduct their workouts in separate quadrants to achieve social distancing, which will be monitored by a "field marshal." Players will not be able to interact with one another and can't leave the field without the marshal's permission.
If a player touches a piece of equipment during the session, such as a goal post, that will be disinfected at the end of the individual session. At the conclusion of the session, the player will put on a mask, sanitize their hands and put on new gloves. Later, players will be required to report where they traveled outside of the house that day.
All plans must be reviewed and approved by the club's medical staff and local infectious disease expert before submitting to Major League Soccer. Every club will designate a member of the staff to oversee adherence to MLS-recommended protocols and club-specific implementation plan.